Friday, August 15, 2014

Sometimes Mother Nature calls the shots

by Meagan Lott

It’s no shock that Mother Nature calls the shots when it comes to the weather. This week we saw a grab bag of different kinds of weather from lightning and flash flooding to even a small tornado touching down in the Tri-Cities.

We try really hard to work around the weather and most of the time we can, but safety is our number one priority and earlier this week it wasn’t something we were going to gamble with.

On Tuesday, we planned to close Snoqualmie Pass for rock blasting at 7:30 p.m. Each blast takes approximately 5,000 pounds of explosives and in order to be ready for the closure, crews have start prepping the blast area early in the morning.

As we got closer to the 7:30 p.m. closure, the lightning meters we have installed on the pass started detecting lightning strikes within 15 miles of the blasting area. Then it jumped to just one mile. As part of Washington State Law (WAC 96-52-67055) and for the safety of drivers and our crews, we had to close the pass immediately. Unfortunately, this didn’t leave us much time to let drivers know that the pass was closing an hour-and-a-half earlier than planned.

Fortunately, we were able to detonate the explosives, clean-up debris from the highway and get the pass back open to traffic within an hour.

We apologize for those of you that may have been stuck in the closure, but again it wasn’t to cause an inconvenience, it was for your safety. In the four years we have been closing the pass for rock blasting, this is the first time we have ever had to close early due to weather.
In case Mother Nature throws us for a loop again, make sure to follow us on Twitter @snoqualmiepass, check us out on Facebook or visit the What’s Happening on I-90 Web page.

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